There’s no color in my closet, and I like it that way. Black, white, beige, gray, some occasional navy. That’s my palette. But I’ve got a drawer full of scarves that’s an entirely different story. Wild hues. Crazy prints. Fancy French silks, hand-woven cottons, and some excellent synthetics not found in nature.
There’s no better, more multi-purpose, more necessary accessory than a scarf. That probably explains its staying power.
- Queen Nefertiti sported a scarf with one of her headdresses.
- Eleanor of Aquitaine started a Middle Ages fashion craze by tying a piece of gossamer to the tip of her pointed hat.
- Napoleon sent cashmere scarves from India to his wife in the 18th century. And these days, every designer who’s ever filled a catwalk has a line of scarves.
- I rarely leave home without one.
- There’s a scarf for every season, every budget, every occasion, every age, and every personal style.
How to tie your scarf:
It’s the lament I hear most often: I just don’t know how to tie a scarf! To which my response is: It’s not macramé. Remember, millions of men manage a four-in-hand knot every weekday morning. Tying a scarf isn’t half as hard.
French women rule in this arena. But I think it’s habit, rather than their knot-tying expertise, that makes it look so je ne sais quoi. What they don’t do – and you shouldn’t either – is fuss too much over your scarf. A lovely scarf will look lovely, no matter how you wear it. There’s plenty of online help for scarf-tying fears. And this is when a picture really is worth a thousand words.
“Playtime With Your Scarf” booklet from Hermès. The scarf-tying bible from the high church of scarves.
Hermès will give you a print version of this when you buy one of their scarves (the famous square now runs $375), but Hermès doesn’t make it easy to find the link to the online version. So, I just saved you tons of time- you’re welcome!
Ok, winter is technically over, but this video is worth bookmarking on how to tie long scarves and pashiminas.
Basic folds and knots (and dozens of other options). You’ll find some repeats here from the Hermès booklet, but all nicely labeled and named.
What’s New & Local
As the weather warms, fabric and color combos especially matter. A scarf’s utilitarian function of keeping you warm doesn’t really apply anymore (except in over-air-conditioned spots). Sheer cottons and silk, loose weaves, and lightweight are essential to spring and summer scarves. I’ve got some of those famous French scarves I just won’t wear after April or May. That heavy silk twill isn’t meant for a Nashville summer. But there are so many other options!
I love the nautical-style stripes that are everywhere this season. Trims like fringe, braid, and even pom-poms look fun and fresh on sunny spring days. And tie-dye’s making a comeback. There’s hardly a store in town that doesn’t have a scarf selection, but here are a few I particularly like.
I was inclined to leave the tie-dye trend to my 20-something daughter until I saw these. Incredibly lightweight and gauzy, so the size isn’t overwhelming. You could wrap these around your waist or over a bathing suit too. Silk, $65 – $88 at the Perfect Pair, 2209 Bandywood Drive, Nashville.
Natural indigo, in all its bygone glory:
Probably the oldest dye known, indigo was once called Blue Gold. Virtually all of today’s indigo dye, however, is synthetic. Not in these patterned scarves though. Woven and dipped in natural indigo in India (by Bart Sights, brother of I+W’s co-owner, Carrie). Subtle and spectacular. Available at Imogene + Willie.
Next, a pom pom minimalist:
A little pom-pom accent goes a long way, and this scarf has got it just right. Navy, white or lavender, in t-shirt-like fabric. Cotton, $79 at Habit, 2209 Bandywood Drive, Nashville.
All over the rainbow:
A zillion gorgeous colors, two gorgeous styles. A loosely-woven raw silk version ($30) that could easily double as a belt or hairwrap, and a perfect summer pashmina ($75) that could outfit an entire bridal party. At Ash Blue, 2170 Bandywood Drive, Nashville.
Wherever you find your next favorite scarf and however you wear it, you’ll always be in style – and in good company.
Cindy Wall is a Nashville-based communications consultant, usually wearing a scarf with a story.
“I bought my first serious scarf on my first trip in France in my 20’s, lucky enough to be working on a film project about Hemingway and Fitzgerald. All I knew was that I wanted to look ‘French,’ says Cindy. “I never managed that, but I still wear that beautiful scarf,” says Cindy.